Of Tractor Beams and Irresistible Grace

My walk toward the cross was more like trench warfare. I fought it. During the time of the most pitched spiritual warfare, I created a lot of art in attempts to understand what was going on with me as my spirit fought the Savior but I couldn't express it in words.

In this piece below I felt intuitively that my spirit was trying to transform but something was holding me down while at the same time something was pulling me up. In the piece below, the butterfly is broken and unable to transform because it is caught in a net as it attempts to fight off whatever has captured it. The poem, which I re-typed in larger font, mentions Strigoi. This is a folk personage who, in Romanian legend, is a kind of vampire. I intuitively felt that a dark force of evil had caught me, so I used the reference to Strigoi.

Strangely (though not so strangely if you understand the Bible) I was trying to get "upward" toward something better, BUT NOT JESUS! Horrors, anything except Jesus! I bought Buddhist books, pagan books, New Age gooks, psychology books, all in vain attempts to stave off the one last resort to try- Jesus. I was vigorous about it.

During that time I felt that the world had two elements to it, good, or love, and evil. I represented that fight in this piece, called 'Intelligent Design.'

You might notice that same cupola in Intelligent Design that is in the Suspended Transformation piece. It has a sort of evil eye as a wind vane and to me, seemed very demonic. It represented a strong tower or fortress of evil. My mistake then was thinking that good, or love, and evil were equal combatants in this world. Of course I know now that Jesus has overcome everything and evil bows to His will. The battle is not equal. It is not even.

I remember shortly after I was saved, this battle and its exigencies were still fresh in my mind and very palpable. I said to a church friend of the Arminian type, "I was brought to the cross kicking and screaming." She looked at me and dismissively said, "You were not!" My friend and her circle in which I was involved strongly believed that the believer decides for him or herself to go forward down an aisle and the walk down the aisle is littered with rose petals, dancing unicorns and rainbows. While that may be some people's experience, my own experience at salvation was one of agony, blood, tears, and resistance. I did not want to go. But I could not resist.

Source The Graphics Fairy

On Star Trek, tractor beams were a beam that emanated from a spaceship and when aimed at a lesser vessel, inexorably drew the then-helpless vessel toward the greater vessel. No matter if the lesser vessel had its shields up, or if its thrusters were in full reverse, or if they attempted to bug out at warp speed, once caught in the Tractor Beam, they could not escape and were pulled to the Vessel. The name 'tractor beam' was coined from food chemist and science fiction writer E.E. Smith's original "Attractor Beam." I was a Trekkie (original series) and I always liked the tractor beam. I did not know, but God knew, that decades later I would be caught in His tractor beam of grace.

Today I understand that God wrote our names down in His Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). The default condition of every person on earth is that we are all sinners all the time and we do not seek God. (Romans 3:10-11).

However, His grace is such that, at the appointed time, God uses His irresistible grace as a tractor beam to draw people to His Son. (John 6:44). Without it, we would never willingly "choose Jesus." We can't and if we are drawn, initially we resist. However God is so mighty and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, so no one can resist it forever. Otherwise it would mean that satan and man can frustrate God.

John Murray said of irresistible grace:
The enmity of the human heart is most virulent at the point of the supreme revelation of God’s glory. So deep-seated and persistent is the contradiction that the Saviour as the embodiment of grace is rejected. It is when we recognize this that the need for irresistible grace is perceived.
No one cay say to Him, "Nah, I'm good." Could Lazarus reply to Jesus in the tomb, "I want to lay here a little longer." No. The Doctrine of Irresistible grace is the "I" in the TULIP acronym for the Doctrines of Grace. Though personal experience is not the final analysis of anything, I know my salvation walk was fraught with resistance. I dug in my heels.
It is a moral and spiritual impossibility for a person to come to Christ apart from the Father’s drawing. What we find now is that it is a moral and spiritual impossibility for the person given by the Father to the Son not to come. There is by Jesus’ verdict the invariable conjunction of these two diverse kinds of action—“all that the Father giveth me will come to me.” There is invincible efficacy in the Father’s action and this means grace irresistible. (John Murray)
At the time I was revolted by the notion of anything about Jesus, that the something better my heart was wanting was indeed Him. I  now am grateful every day that I know Him and that I can ponder His beauty and wondrous glory at any moment of the day. I can read His word at any time and earn more about Him. I can pray and enter into the throne room. I can see Him in other people of the faith. He is endlessly fascinating to me, to a degree that is as far as the east is from the west as I had found Him revolting before salvation. Only Jesus could turn such a drenched heart of sin and His very name on my tongue made it bitter, to one of cleansed wonder for His glory. Only him. Thank God we cannot resist Him.

For more on Irresistible Grace,

CARM definition and supporting verses

Irresistible Grace is the Power of God

The Doctrine of God's Effectual Call

John Murray on Irresistible Grace, From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343”


  1. I can relate to your book quest in an attempt to satisfy your heart's longing with anything but Jesus. You should have seen the nonsense I was reading!

    When I began attending church, I would get so mad and offended by things the preacher said, I would leave, never to return. But then find myself there again the next week. Only God can draw by repelling.


  2. My walk was similar. Though I wasn't as resistive to the Spirit I was caught up in the things of this life and, though God called me, at one stage I turned away from Him. When I He called me again I tried many other false ways before I finally accepted that God was the only way. I always believed that He searched me out. He saved me. He drew me to Him. If it were up to me I'd still be wandering around in a wilderness of worldly confusion.
    God bless you!

  3. I did the same thing. I had a bookcase full of self-help books, some Christian, some secular, but all were focused on self, not Christ. My efforts to turn myself into a better person failed because I was focused on self, attitudes, and behavior, not confession, repentance, and receiving the gift of forgiveness and restoration. Once my heart was right was Christ, behavior and attitudes fell into line as He was my guiding light, not myself. I'm not saying it was always easy but it was less effort and less frustrating than when I was trying to fix myself.

  4. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea."

    What was the point of saying this then? Kind of harsh punishment if He is going to just "zap" them into submission and if they don't have a choice.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      your question is a good one and it touches on one of the most essential questions and debate in all of Reformed Christendom. There seems to be an irreconcilable tension between what we understand from the Bible regarding God's sovereignty and man's responsibility for his sin. Now, we know that God alone ignites mens' hearts (Psalm 51:10 and draws them to Himself. (John 6:44; 12:32).

      No, it is by grace alone we are saved, not choice alone or in part.

      Yet at the same time, we also know that man is thoroughly depraved. Genesis 6 says men were only inclined to evil all the time. We cannot do anything for God that He would consider righteous. At all. (Romans 3:10). Man's sin against God is infinite and deserves an infinite punishment. Man is born a sinner, dead in his trespasses.

      So if man is born a sinner and nothing he does or can do can get him NOT to be a sinner NOR can he save himself, isn't it unjust of God to allow men to be born, sin, then send them to hell?

      No. Because God is good. All He does is good. He is right to send all men to hell. That He saves some is evidence of His goodness.

      We cannot understand the tension between these two doctrines, and the Bible does not resolve them. But we do not need it to- we also know that God is love, God is Good, and all he does is good, and the two doctrines are resolved in HIS mins. That's all we need.



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